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How a picture revealed a woman

Lucrezia Borgia, Dosso Dossi, NGV
Lucrezia Borgia, Dosso Dossi, NGV
Bill Barlow
10 April 2021
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It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words.


This coming week on 15 April the GSV is very pleased to host a talk by Carl Villis of NGV about the revealing of a famous woman, Lucrezia Borgia.


Dating of paintings - Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia's portrait - a journey across five centuries


15 April 10.30-11.30 am via Zoom.


Don't miss this opportunity. Book via the GSV website quickly.

$5 GSV members. $20 non-members. GSV members please log in to register.


Carl Villis will relate the journey of discovery that led to the newsworthy reattribution of the National Gallery of Victoria’s sixteenth-century portrait of Lucrezia Borgia, the most famous woman of Renaissance Italy.  Prior to this research, the portrait was believed to represent a young man, but through one discovery at a time, a detailed examination of the portrait’s highly specific technical and visual features led to the conclusion that the painting’s subject could only be Lucrezia. The revelations came about through an interconnected examination of conservation, art historical and provenance sources which may be familiar to genealogical researchers.


About our presenter

Carl Villis is the Senior Conservator of Paintings at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. He has specialised in the conservation of Old Master paintings at the NGV for the past twenty-five years. He has also spent several years working in both Italy and the United States. At the Gallery he has conducted major conservation treatments and technical research on paintings by many artists in the collection, including Correggio, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Rubens and Giambattista Tiepolo. He frequently combines his technical analysis of paintings with art historical research and has published studies on works by Poussin, Van Dyck and Bernardo Bellotto, among others. In 2013-14 he was a Craig Hugh Smyth Visiting Fellow at Harvard University’s Centre for Renaissance Studies at the Villa I Tatti in Florence for the purpose of researching and writing a book on his identification of the Gallery’s early sixteenth-century portrait of Lucrezia Borgia.



Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara (1519-1530)

Dosso DOSSI 

Battista DOSSI (attributed to) 

oil on wood panel

74.5 × 57.2 cm

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Felton Bequest, 1966

© Public Domain 

Photo: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne


Expiry Date: 
Thursday, 7 October, 2021 - 09:00
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